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Method-Driven Experiments and the Search for Dark Matter

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 January 2022


Since the discovery of dark matter in the 1980s, multiple experiments have been set up to detect dark matter particles through some other mode than gravity. Particle physicists provide detailed justifications as to why their experiments should be able to detect dark matter. I show that these justifications take on a structure different from what is often the case in experimental practice, and I argue that this is because of the limited description of dark matter. By illuminating this ‘method-driven logic’, I shed new light on questions surrounding measurement robustness and methodological pluralism in the context of dark matter research.

Research Article
Copyright © The Philosophy of Science Association

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I am especially grateful to John Norton, Sandra Mitchell, and James Woodward for many helpful discussions of this work. I would also like to thank Arthur Kosowsky, Michela Massimi, Morgan Thompson, and Nora Boyd for their insightful feedback on this article, as well as three anonymous referees. This work has been presented at the University of Edinburgh work in progress talk series, KU Leuven, and the Complutense University of Madrid; I would like to acknowledge audiences there for their questions and comments.


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